" ... Kidder reveals the sheer abundance of life contained within a town's narrow boundaries. Does the kind of small town that many Americans came from, and long for, still exist? Kidder says yes, although not quite in the form we may imagine. A book about civilization in microcosm ... "--Dust jacket.
This could be the story of any Main Street, USA town - wars on drugs and the homeless; town hall meetings; protests and demonstrations; college students and skateboarding teens; the rich and the poor. Northampton has a rich history and has been the home of many famous people, including Sylvia Plath, Calvin Coolidge, William Cullen Bryant, and Sojourner Truth - it is also said to be the birthplace of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is a work of non-fiction, but it reads like fiction.
Warning: Kidder loves words and he uses them profusely - this is not a book you can skim, so it may takea while to wade through.
These compelling snapshots tell a sort of mosaic of the town of Northampton. Tommy O'Connor's story is essentially the one that connects all the dots, and the other people involved have at least some relationship with him when first introduced, though Kidder gives us more of their story than Tommy could have known from their interactions. Though he's never present as an "I," Kidder's presence is felt as the listening ear for Tommy in the cop car or Alan Scheinman explaining how OCD took over his life. Interspersed in these vignettes are stories from the history of the town, and as a result of the United States, and a glimpse of a small town still existing in today's busy society. The book is about fifteen years old, but I could recognize the town that I've visited several times myself in its pages.